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Muslims and Jews in Louisville, Kentucky, plan to join together Friday after several anti-Islamic messages were spray-painted in red on a mosque this week.
The hate-filled graffiti was first spotted Wednesday at the Louisville Islamic Center, and includes the messages, "Nazis speak Arabic," "Moslems — leave the Jews alone," and "This is for France," a possible reference to the Islamic terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train last month and the massacre at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January.
"We knew that hatred will hit us one day but there was always a brink of hope that our community outreach efforts may deflect it away from us," mosque spokesman Muhammad Babar wrote in a letter Thursday. "But fact of the matter is that we are hit hard right here in our compassionate city of Louisville at a place that is [a] center of tolerance and compassion."
Louisville police are reviewing surveillance video in an effort to identify any suspects. The FBI is also helping to investigate the vandalism as an apparent hate crime, NBC affiliate WAVE reported.
As a way to unite the community, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is asking Muslims, Jews and others to come to the center and help paint over the graffiti Friday afternoon.
"This is an act of extremism here," Fischer said Thursday, according to the station. "Extremism of any kind will not be tolerated in our city and in our country."
Islamic centers across American have been similarly defaced in recent months. Earlier this year, a nonprofit Muslim school in Rhode Island was vandalized with "senseless, hateful comments," police told NBC News.